So I have had a few questions from Cara over at The DI Denizen about how to make your body proportionate if you are petite and would like to wear modest shorts. Since this fits right into body proportions we might as well address her questions. Cara’s first question was about where the hemline should be if you are petite. Her second question was about how or if you can wear ballet shoes with short muscular calves.

Here’s some helpful tips to obtain a more balanced proportion for petite/short hips and legs (along with answering Cara’s questions):

  • Don’t cut the hemline too short – that will emphasize any shortness in the thigh – best to leave it covered. (We naturally look wider where we are short in proportion, and unfortunately our short areas are where our bodies usually like to store the fat) So no daisy dukes for those short and round in the lower regions. Even though some people in fashion think the only way to lengthen the leg is by wearing a shorter hemline, this is not the solution for all women, especially those who are older (more mature), or those of us who put weight on in the thigh region, which is very common for short legged women.

Women’s Pincord Bermuda Shorts by Land’s End – $36.50

  • Bring your hemlines just above the knee, before your leg starts getting wider.  This keeps the illusion of thin legs rather than legs that are getting wider up into unknown (clothed) regions, never knowing where the wideness ends.
  • Think outside the box: look at the clothed section as another whole section of the body that needs to be proportioned with the golden mean. (From the top of the shirt down to the bottom of the of the shorts.) If the hem of your shirt hits right in the middle of that section, you will look like a box. So if you are petite this is going to make you look like a short box. Leave your shirt un-tucked if you are wearing longer shorts! This will create a break in the clothing that follows the golden section. The hem of the blouse should come above the crease of your leg. This is especially important to balance out longer shorts.
  • Use fitting and lines that flatter your figure: Fitted or loose, but not tight shorts. Tight pants on short legs emphasize that you are wider than is proportionate for your height. Horizontal wrinkles let us know where something is too tight. Wrinkles tend to point to the problem area. Plus the horizontal wrinkles cut the length of the garment and emphasize horizontal lines all over your body, creating the image of short. So avoid jeans that have been faded on the wrinkles at the crease of your leg.

Check Bermuda Short by Banana Republic – $49.50

  • Avoid any repeating of horizontal lines. Repetition is a way of emphasizing a point in clothing (just the same as when mothers repeat the same thing over and over.) So don’t wear, wide, scooped, necklines. Do wear higher and more narrow (image below) necklines or crew-neck tees.

Tuxedo Top by DownEast Basics – $12.99-19.99

  • Vertical lines! On your blouse or in the style-lines of the shorts, they are only a bonus for the petite!

On & Off Hours Blouse by Anthropologie – $68.00

  • Keep it simple. Try not to have many side pockets and detailing.
  • Wear a looser or more flowing top, with fitted pants.  This will help create the illusion that your leg continues and is thin to an imagined point.
  • Skirts are another great alternative for the short legged, if you want to wear ballet shoes.  A slight A-line or narrow skirt is a good choice.  Don’t add too much fullness around your hip and thigh region though.
  • Heels are always helpful, but not a necessity if you follow the suggestions below.
  • Use color to your advantage:  Neutral and subtle tones in the shorts and a flashy color up top.  This will create the visual effect of lengthening the legs, and drawing the attention up top.
  • Neutral/skin-tone shoes- Are a must if you have short, muscular, calves and you want to wear ballet shoes. Visually neutral tones lengthen and carry on the vertical line that we want to emphasize, rather than breaking it with color in a horizontal line.  Contrasting colors draw the attention to the short calves.  (So as cute as yellow ballet slippers may be, they are not a good choice with shorts and a short leg combo)

Eco-chic Ballerina Flats by The Generation – $55.00

  • Use monochromatic color schemes.  This will help de-emphasize breaks in clothing lines that create horizontal lines.  If you don’t want to wear all one color all the time, break the color by using a long open cardigan, this will give you variety while still continuing the vertical lines.  You can also add colorful jewelry and accessories to break up the monotony.

Exposed Seam Cardigan & Heritage Roll-up Short by Banana Republic– Though these shorts are a little too short, the concept of the outfit is good.

Cara, and the rest of our short legged readers, I hope this helps you plan your Summer wardrobe!

If you have fashion questions for me, feel free to leave a comment on this post, blog your questions like Cara did) or send them to her directly by email at antelita {at} hotmail {dot} com.  Stay tuned as we continue to discuss proportion balancing, as well as fashion trends for spring and summer 2010.